The Bicol peninsula at the eastern side of Luzon is most known for Mayon Volcano. In recent years, it has become more popular because of Caramoan (the islands where Survivor series were filmed), Calaguas (a group of islands that has matched the beauty of the island of Boracay and Palawan) and the whale sharks of Sorsogon. But, what most tourists do not know is that at the southernmost tip of the region, a small town Matnog, boasts off visit-worthy spots that will make one adore the Bicolandia more.
Matnog, a quiet fishing town, is considered as the gateway to the Visayas as the place is just a ship away from Northern Samar by just crossing the San Bernardino Strait. However, some just 30-45 minutes away from the town’s mainland are islands with amazing splendour
So if you are in search for a different Bicol beach and island-hopping then you might just want to mull over Matnog and what is has to offer. There are actually several sites you can visit. These are Calintaan island, Tikling Island, and the Juag Marine Sanctuary. During my visit in 2012, I was fortunate to have seen both Calintaan Island and the Juag Fish Sanctuary despite the gloomy weather.
Calintaan Island’s most frequented attraction is Subic Daco Beach — a stretch of pink-like coralline sand touched by aquamarine waters. The water is quite deep so make sure to bring life vests or floaters both for kids and non-swimmers. Nonetheless, the water is great for swimming and snorkelling especially at areas where it is teeming with corals. One may opt to camp in this area, especially if you decide to stay overnight. Do not forget to wake up early as this side offers an awesome view of the sunrise.
Aside from visiting Subic Beach, one may explore also the Calintaan Cave located at the other side of the island that is accessible by boat. One will be prompted to swim to reach the cave’s entrance. Within the cave is a small beach speckled with rocks with crystal-clear water.
Juag Marine Sanctuary
From Calintaan Island, one can do some fish feeding or even swimming with numerous fishes at the Juag Lagoon. Upon reaching the area, visitors will have to ride a raft or walk through bamboo platforms in order to feed the fishes. The area is also surrounded by several islets that serve as protection from the tides of the open seas.
Another island that one may visit is Tikling Island. Although I wasn’t able to set foot on this small island, our boatman said it shares comparable pink coralline sand with that of Subic Daco Beach.
One will have to pay the tourist registration and environmental fees at the Matnog Tourism Office, located right across the Municipal Hall. The registration fee is Php 50 for Filipinos, Php 300 for foreigners, and Php 40 for senior citizens. There is also an environmental fee at Php 20. Upon registration, personnel from the tourism office can already assign a boat to your group. A boat goof for 10 people costs Php 1,600 for day trips and Php 2,000 for overnight trips.
How To Get To Matnog, Sorsogon:
Fastest way is to ride a plane (one hour) or the longer but cheaper way is to take a bus (8-10 hours) to Legazpi City. From Legazpi City in Albay, you have two route choices: direct from Daraga, Albay or via Bulan, Sorsogon.
Legazpi City to Daraga, Albay to Matnog, Sorsogon: Take a jeepney to Daraga (5-10 minutes) and tell the driver to drop you off at the intersection where Matnog-bound buses pass. The bus trip from Daraga to Matnog may take three to four hours. The bus will drop you off right by the municipal building in Matnog, which is right next to the port.
Legazpi City to Matnog via Bulan, Sorsogon: Go to the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal and board a van or bus going to Bulan, Sorsogon. Travel may take 2.5 hours. Tell the driver to drop you off at the intersection before the town proper where Matnog-bound public vehicles pass. From here, wait for buses or jeepneys going to Matnog. These will drop you off at the port.
One may also take a bus from Manila that goes straight to Matnog — inquire at Philtranco, Raymond and Amihan (Cubao, Quezon City). Travel period can take about 13-15 hours so it’s advisable to travel at night.
Don’t be a wasted soul. Be ‘juan”derlust…